Monday, May 8, 2017

One Last Night Perfect Night : Best Coast Bias Does It (NXT) Live

Thank you, Tye
Photo Credit: NXT's Instagram
Results, stray thoughts and takeaway from the last leg of NXT's house show sojourn through Southern California RIGHT HERE in San Diego, California (smile, cheesy grin, thumbs up) just as soon as me, my girlfriend and some of our friends get finished looking over our preliminary blueprints on the Patrick Clark Bandwagon...

  • No Way Jose beat Kona Reevves after a pop-up punch.
  • Ruby Riot and Lacey Evans beat Mandy Rose and Bianca Blair when Riot pinned Blair after an overhead/Pele kick.
  • Kassius Ohno beat Oney Lorcan after a Rolling Elbow.
  • #DIY beat Ridddick Moss and Tino Sabotelli after delivering their still somehow unnamed finisher (Impact Sandwich?).
  • Drew McIntyre beat Patrick Clark after hitting the Claymore.
  • NXT Women's World Champion Asuka added another win in her undefeated ledger by beating Sonya DeVille after a buzzsaw kick.
  • Hideo Itami and the departing Tye Dillinger beat NXT World Champion Bobby Roode and Andrade "Cien" Almas after Itame made Cien Go To Sleep in the main event.
General Observations:
  • After having so much fun at last year's house show up in LA/Hollywood, it was decided that if ever NXT came directly into my neck of the woods, I would be there.  Even better, I had my girlfriend with me at her first ever live wrestling show, eager to see some of the people she watched on Takeover: Orlando (ONE OF US ONE OF US ONE OF US ONE OF US).  And when you can get essentially ninth-row seats for $20 and service fees, you got to take it.
  • Just like that show, this opened up with the THEN - NOW - FOREVER stinger, a Triple H pretape asking us the question you would assume, and No Way Jose's music the first thing that opened up the show proper.
  • This time was different, as Jose went over the rail pre-match and led about a 50-deep conga line around the ring.  Seeing people come down from the stands and just gleefully join the party was one of the little things on its own that was almost worth the price of admission alone.
  • Once in the ring, he and I believe Danillo did a little bit of Kid n' Play House Party style before he sambaed a bit with Kayla and demurely kissed her hand afterwards.
  • For all fellow cynics, regardless of it being life, wrestling or both, you definitely should sit next to someone who's happy to be at their first show and in front of three hilarious kids who don't care about alignments and yell hilarious stuff during the entire show.  My girlfriend did bring up the good point that some of their more vicious taunts could veer into Children of the Corn territory, but there's got to be a future generation of smarks after we eat the pinfall in our fandom retirement match, you know?
  • That's a long way of helping to say this trioka of youth HATED Kona Reeves for no good reason pretty much on sight, and I chortled so hard I almost choked on my spit.
  • Reeves grabbed Jose by the 'fro and threw him to the mat to take control.  SMDH.  Just another case of the Man keeping us down.
  • A quick comeback for Jose, who my Number One liked as an attractive man who could dance (thus explaining our entire relationship).
  • Mandy Rose's music : Pour Some Sugar On Me :: Conspiracy Era WCW Jericho's music : Evenflow
  • First time seeing Blair in action, who you may recognize from her destroying the PC's combine last summer.  She had a braid nearly the length of her body, and used it to whip Ruby a couple of times during the match as a good heel should.
  • Lacey Evans is the former Macey Estrella, the southern belle with a military background.  
  • My girlfriend was torn between the glam glitz Blair brought to the turntable and Riot's punk rock background and tattoos.
  • Rose drew the heat by removing Evans' debutante skirt off of her gear, and for besmirching her honor the blonde bombshell got the business end of a gloveslapping.  If only the Vaudevillians were still an operating entity...
  • Evans won the fans over quickly with her character, and she had a really crisp slingshot elbow drop as well.  The worst thing I can say about anyone on the show is that they looked decent and just need to get more reps both on and off camera, which you might remember as being the entire point of a developmental league.
  • Rose's forearms looked really good again.  One of the things Sara Amato should get credit for is raising a division on striking with solid forearms instead of sloppy punches.
  • Riot was the Dead Milkmen's version of Ricky Morton, and it was great seeing her live after years of fandom.  I wonder if that'll be her finishing maneuver giving the proclivity of it amongst main roster stars, but hers was as on point as any of theirs.
  • Big pops for both the ex Mr. Busick and Mr. Hero, though I'm sure my boss will assign the proper amount of demerits for not stating the former wasn't, in fact, here for porkin'.
  • Simple story here, Lorcan had a bandage on his left arm for reasons unspecified, and Ohno targeted it the whole match with various holds evocative of a Saturday morning on World of Sport.  Finger work para la victoria.
  • Lorcan's comeback was explosive and by the time they were heading down the homestretch the crowd was pretty solidly split down the middle, peaking in a This Is Awesome! chant after a Cyclone Kick and a near-fall.
  • Respect handshake at the top of the ramp post-match, and I asked the fellow wrestling nerds next to me, why not team up THESE guys and send them after the Authors?
  • Assuming by the dollar signs on their Tron, I feel safe in dubbing the Sabotelli/Moss dyad Young Money.  In some of the best heat of the night Moss mentioned that he'd heard so many good things about San Diego, but he got here and it was gray and raining and the women weren't as attractive as he'd been led to believe; thus, it wasn't a wonder that the Chargers left town.  
  • Sometimes someone lobs such a pitch-perfect insult you sit there nodding with a bit of a DeNiro face.
  • Funny spot early on as Moss and Ciampa were in a push-up contest, eventually won when Moss didn't stop and Ciampa waiting a couple of beats before pouncing on him with a side headlock.
  • DIY got the Diegans fired up with dives, and both Moss and especially Tino sold them very well.
  • Of course Young Money isn't anywhere in Johnny Wrestling's league when it comes to that.  Once again you could come away with the feeling that Gargano was put on this Earth and in that ring to take a beating convincingly.
  • Nice Gory Special and bulldog combo from the black hats, but we all knew how this was going to end.
  • Props also to the Psycho Killer and Johnny Wrestling for going around the ring twice to dap up everybody ringside up to and including selfies/Instagram stories/etc.
  • Into intermission, a hilarious addendum, new announcer Vic Joseph was missing a shoe, first noted by some ringside fans and then put on the Tron, causing a "where's your shoe?" chant.  He said DIY had it, Ciampa came out with it and when it didn't go back on smoothly right away he said he couldn't be Cinderella, threw the shoe up the ramp and left with it.  I agree with the children behind me, however: that should've been counted and treated as a proposal.
  • Coming back from intermission we got a highlight package of Bayley/Sasha from Brooklyn beacuse wrestling is an oasis in a sea full of bullshit.  The Number One was pleasantly surprised this was all in the same match.
  • HUGE pop for DMC back from intermission.
  • Why Patrick Clark took such a gigantic bump to the outside between the ropes to the point where I was legitimately concerned about his safety for a few seconds is beyond me, but kudos and snack bars to him for doing it.  Apparently I was not the only person in attendance who's mind was positively affected by the Velveteen Dream Experience live, as several other people in my row would later mention they went from being sarcastic about him to genuinely wanting him to win and liking the effort he put in his losing cause.  He's got a nice Savage elbow, people still miss Prince, just turn the DCite babyface already or bathe yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
  • For some reason the Empress came out with the old Women's championship.  We summarily informed the former Berenato of her fate (skull emoji).
  • It was a little surprising to see the amount of offense DeVille got in, but Asuka sold all of it beautifully to the point where the earlier concerns about Clark manifested itself after some strikes and her temporarily jelly-legged selling.
  • Nice spot in the women's match where they both laid each other out with Crocop shots at the same time.  The Number One liked it (her early favorites are Asuka and #DIY based on her two shows) but thought it was too short, hence our imminent trip to dive into the Network and watch every Women's title Takeover match in chronological order.
  • In LA it was a maybe, in SD there was no doubt, Tye Dillinger, working his final NXT show as noted by his social media earlier in the day, was the most over man in the building.  More Tens than the Playboy Mansion for the Canuck.
  • Since this is a town that knows a little bit about lucha libre, Cien got about a 60/40 of cheers to boos.
  • The main was mostly played for laughs, including a crotch chop from Dillinger to Roode at one point and Itami mocking the Glorious! pose at another.  
  • It was a bit surprising see Itami pick up the pinfall with a Go To Sleep considering it was Dillinger's last night in the brand (though he did get to lay out Roode with a Tyebreaker before the GTS), but then again, Dillinger would be busy enough in the post match.
  • As much as she liked Dillinger, the Number One did say that she came away liking Roode probably the most out of anyone on the card.  She liked his powerful, bombastic presence and "shiny bathrobe", as well as the fact he brought a lot of pageantry and showmanship with the chops to back it up.  He also was great about even being weaselly to Andrade and interacting with the crowd both in ring and while he was on the apron agitating from there.  Also, as a woman who grew up in Georgia loving the American Dream, DADDEH, seeing a main event tag match was right up her alley, antics and all.
  • Itami did hold the NXT World Championship for a bit after the bell in case you want to guess how the number one contendership match on Wednesday night is going to go.  Strong was conspicuous by his absence (so were the Authors, for that matter).
  • But anyway, this was The Perfect Ten's moment, and one about four years in the making.  You could hear the emotion in his voice as he thanked pretty much anyone who'd had a hand in helping to contribute to Full Sail's baby over the past 1,500 days after he mentioned it was his first time in San Diego and he damn sure hoped it wasn't his last.  Chants broke out unprompted for the production crew and a cameraman named Ryan, but the most interesting one was the last one, "U.S. Champ".  Dillinger let it settle in and built moment, then looked into a camera and said "K.O., I'm coming for you."  Until that chant happened I didn't know how badly I actually wanted to see that match.
  • As seen above, they hit the Perfect theme and the roster came out for the sendoff and curtain call.  Most bouncy during the whole thing, surprisingly, was Asuka.
Match of the Night: Oney Lorcan v. Kassius Ohno - It seemed like they got the longest match on the show, but that might've just been imagined.  What wasn't was the intensity that they threw at each other once things got past takedowns and joint work, and it was pleasantly surprising to see that in a match that was ostensibly a babyface v. babyface match that was essentially "wrestling for the sake of wrestling".

Fun as it was to see the technical mastery of Ohno, the back end of the match with the harder hitting, multiple nearfalls, and echoing thuds of successful offense were such that several audience members around me chanted for one man, than the other, and pretty much were just popping for every single big move down the stretch.  You half expected a "both these guys" chant to break out even though Viejas Arena was nowhere near capacity.   Much as I enjoyed his lowkey best of three against Andrade from the tail end of last year going into this one, I remain surprised that they haven't found a way to have Lorcan consistently on TV with something resembling a push behind him. (Ed. note: He could always be HERE FOR PORKIN' - TH)  And again, if they're not going to have Ohno in the main event scene post-Chicago, teaming him with Lorcan would give them both a direction going forward as well as two guys who could provide a physical counterpoint to the Authors that would seem plausible were they to hoist the tag belts at the end of that match.

Overall thoughts: What a fun, great night.  The LA show was different and more storyline intensive due to the Dusty Classic semifinals as well as the surprise guest appearance of Kota bleeping Ibushi, but one of the things that struck me reviewing my notes in this show that, in sharp contrast to big brother's Monday and Tuesday nights, every piece of comedy on this show came off successfully to an audience full of smarks and newbs alike.

For all the talk of how NXT isn't what it used to be, people forget sometimes that things take time to cook.  Of course WWE was going to rob them blind, that's the point.  This is exactly why the Mandys, Clarks, Tinos and Sonias need to get in these reps, as they seem to all have a firm grasp of their characters not just in attitude but in kinetic movement as well,   I'd be astounded if one of the lower lights on this show wasn't headlining a Takeover in 2019.

Also elevating the evening was Dillinger's final goodbye to the house that built and then rebuilt him, which was a moment greater than anything the LA show could've possibly pulled off just due to blind luck and good timing (at least for us who were in attendance).   Seeing a lifer and a good man by all reports get the sendoff he deserves reminds you the business isn't just full of charlatans and skullduggery, that there are good moments and more important some good people behind them from time to time.  Whether his bluer pastures lead him to the championship gold that eluded him in his NXTenure, you can't help but root for the man.

On this Saturday night, NXT made a new fan and also helped a longtime one find again why he enjoys it so much while reveling in the joy it brought forth.  Some may come and some may go,  not just in their ledger of workers but in eyeballs on it.  But for those of us who stay, the maxim is true: we are NXT.

And seeing a guy work a decade and a half to get to where he is give a shit in front of an arena that wasn't near full but welcome those of us who showed up, that royal We will always be around in some shape or form.

(I mean, it's possible I'm horribly biased because he favorited my Tweet.  But still.)